What Do PCs Do For Fun?

by Ameron (Derek Myers) on December 16, 2009

Adventuring is hard work. You’re always putting your life on the line for fame and fortune. But what do you do when you’ve got some down time? How do PCs relax and unwind? We’ve given it some thought and present a few options for your consideration.

Organized Athletic Competition

Whether you choose to participate or just sit back and watch others, organized sports are exciting.

The most common sports are those that rely on strength, skill and stamina. Different cultures will have their own variations that address racial advantages. But when it comes right down to it football is still football whether it’s Halflings, Bugbears or Humans playing.

There are also various types of individual competitions designed to determine the best of the best. Olympic-style games might include archery, fencing, jousting and other weapon-related challenges. Even simple competitions like who can lift the heaviest object or who can run the fastest have always been a great way for athletes to compete.

Live Performance

Until the Wizard Zworykin creates a magic box small enough to fit in your home and capable of generating illusions depicting everyday situations, most people need to go to the theater to watch a show.

If you’re looking for live performances you may head to the theater to take in a play, watch a series of sketches performed by a local comedy troupe in the park, or perhaps just laugh yourself silly as you overhear a Bard telling dirty jokes in the pub.

If you enjoy music your choices vary from attending the symphony or opera with the upper echelon of society, to catching a local band at your neighbourhood tavern, or even just enjoying the soulful performance of a struggling street performer singing for her supper.

There’s also various forms of dancing that are enjoyable to try or just watch in awe as professional dancers amaze you with their flexibility and grace.

And of course we can’t forget magic shows. Depending on your taste you may prefer the kind that relies on slight of hand and misdirection to those that actually employ the arcane arts.

In a world with so many incredible creatures and places the most entertaining performances may be the ones that are as simple as an adventurer telling antic dotes from his own life. Depending on how much the audience is enjoying the show the details may start to blur the lines between true and false, but if it’s a good story does it really matter?

Games

The most popular and common games use dice, cards or both. These are often popular across social boundaries since they are easy to learn and convenient to play. All you need are a few dice or a deck of cards.

Group games like charades are great for large gatherings that consist of people of all ages. Since these games are more about having fun than actually being good it makes them easy and enjoyable for everyone regardless of race, age or social standing.

Trivia games about geography, history or monsters lets those with intellectual prowess compete against those with life experience.

Board games like chess have existed for centuries. Surely your campaign world has something akin to the game of kings. Acquiring a rare set may be a good hook for a future adventure.

Reading

In a literate society books are likely common and readily available for all. Since writing and mass producing new books is a time consuming process, recovering old books may be the easiest and fastest way to find new stories. PCs may loot ancient dungeons and discover lost works of fiction or they may plunder a manner form some far off land only to return with stories no one has ever heard before. Never underestimate the value of a regular book.

Gambling

Many of the competitions described above are more exciting when there’s money on the line. In some cases the betting may be encouraged and organized by the very group responsible for putting together the competition. In other cases it may be a more informal custom done in secret.

Sex

Although most gaming groups tend to avoid role-play sexual encounters (since it can get really creepy really fast) it can’t be overlooked as one more way in which people of your campaign world have fun during their down time.

Too Much Fun

Now that we’ve given you all these suggestions for how to have fun, it’s up to you to decide which (if any) of these your PC will partake in during his down time. This list is certainly not all encompassing, but it’s a good start. So the next time your PCs have some time between adventures give some thought to how they might enjoy themselves before they put their armor back on and head off to slay the next dragon.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Neuroglyph December 16, 2009 at 10:33 am

Good ideas there – 4e tends to be such a fast paced game, it’s easy to remember that the PCs need to take a break and just “hang out” between adventures.

In my own campaign, we have a warrior that spends about 20% of his cash on partying between adventures. He throws off his armor, grabs some fancy duds and paints the town red, visiting everything from fest halls to nobles’ dances, all in the name of having fun.

It’s also a great way to add the occasional adventure hook, as you never know where you are going to hear a rumor of a dragon attack or a lost treasure.
.-= Neuroglyph´s last blog ..Review – Corners of the Realm: The Tavari by Fahrenheit Gaming =-.

2 Mike December 16, 2009 at 8:11 pm

I like characters that are wokaholics. Their downtime is experimenting with new spells or working on sword forms so they’re in top condition for the next adventure. I like to those over-acheiving, self-doubting heroes like Drizzt Do’Urden or Horatio Hornblower that are so focus and driven by improving their skills.

Also I miss non-weapon proficiencies. You could reasonably say your character spent their downtime sail-making, basket weaving, or cooking.

I do get your point about hobbies and fun-time activities, though and I’m going to think about one of my current character.
.-= Mike´s last blog ..Who gets to say what your character does =-.

3 Nathan Pierson December 20, 2009 at 9:19 pm

Also I miss non-weapon proficiencies. You could reasonably say your character spent their downtime sail-making, basket weaving, or cooking.

You still CAN say that. It’s just that now, you can reasonably say it without wasting a trained skill on a dude like Profession (Basketweaving). Just because it’s not on your character sheet doesn’t mean it’s forbidden to you.

4 Ameron December 23, 2009 at 6:27 pm

@Neuroglyph
I think more DMs need to give PCs in-game opportunities to explore this kind of cooling down. I’m not saying after every single adventure, but maybe after every couple of levels. It may not lead to anything significant, but it encourages good role-playing and as you said it’s a great way to introduce plot hooks. Of course a particularly devious DM may just use this opportunity to throw a few Red Herrings at the party.

@Mike
I think most of us just assume that our PCs are the workaholics you describe. It makes sense, but it’s boring from a role-playing point of view. As far as non-weapon proficiencies go, take a look at our article Get a Real Job in which we explored the PC’s other skills.

@Nathan Pierson
I thought that the streamlining of skills in 4e was a great improvement for exactly the reason you’ve mentioned. You spend points in a skill that has no benefit other than back-story and role-playing and the points just feel wasted.

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